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Old 21st July 2014, 15:51   #16
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Default Re: Extreme Expedition, Bicycling: Leh-Chang la-Pangong-Chushul-Kakasang la-Hor la-Ma

You, Sir are an inspiration. Speechless.

Hats off to you.
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Old 21st July 2014, 20:24   #17
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Default Re: Extreme Expedition, Bicycling: Leh-Chang la-Pangong-Chushul-Kakasang la-Hor la-Ma

Sir, hats off to your courage!! I have to admit that I cannot muster up the courage to undertake a daring journey like this alone - that too on a bicycle! The wolf encounter had me on the edge of my seat - it was like reading a thrilling novel!

Excellent pics and writing eagerly awaiting the rest!
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Old 21st July 2014, 21:23   #18
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Default Re: Extreme Expedition, Bicycling: Leh-Chang la-Pangong-Chushul-Kakasang la-Hor la-Ma

5 stars are not enough, not for this thread and not for you. TBHP moderators need to make an exception for you to allow 10 stars for the thread and Super-Distinguished bhpian status for you. Absolutely spellbound.

P.S. - I have been trying to contact you for the last 1 month. Please let me know if you are in Kolkata as there is a meet on the 3rd of August and people are expecting the only distinguished bhpian from the area (the other d-bhpian does not attend meets )
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Old 21st July 2014, 22:09   #19
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Default Re: Extreme Expedition, Bicycling: Leh-Chang la-Pangong-Chushul-Kakasang la-Hor la-Ma

I had goosebumps on the first mention of howling. What a journey. What a start. Eagerly awaiting the next installment.
I am also intrigued about the Jan 2014 plan. Hopefully the plan materialized and we will get another treat

Last edited by Mik : 21st July 2014 at 22:10.
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Old 21st July 2014, 22:25   #20
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Default Re: Extreme Expedition, Bicycling: Leh-Chang la-Pangong-Chushul-Kakasang la-Hor la-Ma

What a journey! Admire you.. Hats off!
Looking forward to next installment...
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Old 21st July 2014, 23:58   #21
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Default Re: Extreme Expedition, Bicycling: Leh-Chang la-Pangong-Chushul-Kakasang la-Hor la-Ma

Excellent start to yet another epic to be. What a mighty ride this had been for you!
Absolutely fantastic and fabulous.
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Old 22nd July 2014, 02:10   #22
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Default Re: Extreme Expedition, Bicycling: Leh-Chang la-Pangong-Chushul-Kakasang la-Hor la-Ma

Day 2: From a village beyond Sarkti to Zingral ---- contd...

On a clear day on September 10, 2013, bicycling towards the high pass of Chang la. The inclines just like Tanglang la have a steady gradient - a kind of slow gain of height yet brutal and never ending. The slow uphill gradient drains energy bit by bit, I stop often to gather breath and each stop gives me an opportunity to click.

Extreme Expedition, Bicycling: Leh-Chang la-Pangong-Chushul-Kakasang la-Hor la-Mahe-cycling-leh-pangong-chusul-mahe-61.jpg

Extreme Expedition, Bicycling: Leh-Chang la-Pangong-Chushul-Kakasang la-Hor la-Mahe-cycling-leh-pangong-chusul-mahe-62.jpg

The valley around Sarthi can sometimes be seen still as altitude is gained.

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The bicycle ride to the top continues towards Zingral turn by turn as the mountains turn more and more barren as altitude is gained.

Extreme Expedition, Bicycling: Leh-Chang la-Pangong-Chushul-Kakasang la-Hor la-Mahe-cycling-leh-pangong-chusul-mahe-64.jpg

By afternoon, I reach Zingral. The long twisting brutal inclines have been quite tiring/I see from a distance the small Army camp of Zingral, hope to take some rest, munch on some Maggi noodles and then decide what to do.

Approaching the Army camp of Zingral, Chang la top still some 12-14 km from here.

Extreme Expedition, Bicycling: Leh-Chang la-Pangong-Chushul-Kakasang la-Hor la-Mahe-cycling-leh-pangong-chusul-mahe-65.jpg

Last edited by Rudra Sen : 24th July 2014 at 07:30. Reason: Uniform para spacing
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Old 22nd July 2014, 05:31   #23
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Default Re: Extreme Expedition, Bicycling: Leh-Chang la-Pangong-Chushul-Kakasang la-Hor la-Ma

Brilliant and an inspiring travelogue ADC.

Kudos to your enduarance. Hats off and a well deserved 5 star rating.
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Old 22nd July 2014, 13:30   #24
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Default Re: Extreme Expedition, Bicycling: Leh-Chang la-Pangong-Chushul-Kakasang la-Hor la-Ma

Super story... awesomeness in day one itself. Carry on ADC.. you are the man!
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Old 22nd July 2014, 13:31   #25
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Default Re: Extreme Expedition, Bicycling: Leh-Chang la-Pangong-Chushul-Kakasang la-Hor la-Ma

Nothing to say! Amazing!!!
How did this idea of cycling in Leh first struck you? Was it a momentous decision, or a long pending dream?

Frankly, I can only applaud your venture, but cannot take this up for myself any day, now or ever.
I may try this with a four wheeler some day, though I know what's a dream for me, is a habit of yours.

Cheers!
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Old 22nd July 2014, 14:15   #26
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Thumbs up Re: Extreme Expedition, Bicycling: Leh-Chang la-Pangong-Chushul-Kakasang la-Hor la-Ma

, This is one of a kind!!!
Awesome, truly amazing! Then it becomes 'The Hound of Baskerville', it was elementary my dear Watson! You are one lucky person my dear Sir, but good decision to move out of that place. Reading that bit of the post I felt I was in Corbett's National Park.

Am glued to this one.
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Old 22nd July 2014, 14:23   #27
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Default Re: Extreme Expedition, Bicycling: Leh-Chang la-Pangong-Chushul-Kakasang la-Hor la-Ma

Superb narration adc. You took the right decision by leaving the camping ground, it is better to be safe than sorry. Waiting for your further updates.
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Old 22nd July 2014, 15:49   #28
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Default Re: Extreme Expedition, Bicycling: Leh-Chang la-Pangong-Chushul-Kakasang la-Hor la-Ma

Zingral is a small Army camp base around 12 km from Chang la top. Army men acclimatize here before they are further posted in higher altitudes. This post also serves the purpose of controlling the tourist and local traffic as and when the weather turns inclement over and near Chang la top.

Zingral as such has no places to stay nor restaurants or dhabas for food.

As I stop curious Army men come up and chat. Soon was offered tea and then lunch - having just arrived here at Zingral before their lunch hours end. Thank them for the wonderful offer, very much hungry for a good meal after all the cycling and I head off towards the canteen for some belly-filling food of rice, dal, vegetables and egg curry.

After such a good heavy lunch - which of course is much, much better than munching on dry Maggi, I felt it was quite prudent to stop for the day at Zingral and tomorrow only push on towards Chang la. Plus it was already now 3 pm and and it would take something around another 4 hrs to reach Chang la top - just about when the light is fading away.

On inquiring, one Army guy offered that I can stay at one of the canopies if needed. After yesterday's nightmare, there can be nothing more secure and safe than in this Army camp!

However, another army person nixed it just about when I was about to unpack. He expressed helplessness in that by chance if any senior Army official comes up and find a tourist cyclist camping underneath a canopy it would definitely not be a pleasant site! I need to have permission from Tangste or a word from a source - so the night stay option over here as such stands cancelled.

Frankly speaking I had anyway given myself a low chance of staying out here, though definitely had the plan to pitch tent somewhere near this camp. With yesterday's night memories still vivid, I asked if I could camp around somewhere near their Army area and thus not repeat getting chased again by wild dogs/wolves in pitch darkness.

Now at some distance away from Zingral Army camp, towards the left, on a slight down slope, a couple of derelict one-story concrete shelters are seen; one even did not have any roof. From a distance they looked very much dilapidated and uninhabited - it had the typical appearance of a BRO barrack camp, which in its heyday would have been used as a shelter for the labourers for road building and which then was later abandoned as work went away from here.


As learned from the Arny guys that this seemingly abandoned BRO shelter actually still is a barrack for quite a few labouers who work up in the Chang la and since all have left for work early morning, it seems empty. I can go off to that shelter and camp around somewhere there.

That seemingly abandoned derelict shelter as seen from Zingral Army camp - located at the end away of the dirt track that goes away from the Army camp.

Extreme Expedition, Bicycling: Leh-Chang la-Pangong-Chushul-Kakasang la-Hor la-Mahe-cycling-leh-pangong-chusul-mahe-66.jpg

Following the dirt track brings me to the shelter. This definitely has seen better days before. Only one shelter is somehow standing, with tin sheets barely covering the gaping spaces of supposedly windows and doors.

Extreme Expedition, Bicycling: Leh-Chang la-Pangong-Chushul-Kakasang la-Hor la-Mahe-cycling-leh-pangong-chusul-mahe-69.jpg

The Zingral Army camp as seen from here - thinking, just a few moments before it was almost certain that I was staying in the Army camp itself, before that option was went away as fast as it had come.

Extreme Expedition, Bicycling: Leh-Chang la-Pangong-Chushul-Kakasang la-Hor la-Mahe-cycling-leh-pangong-chusul-mahe-68.jpg

So go now on a survey of this site, which did look totally empty even now. As said, find out that actually most of the guys have gone to and around Chang la top for BRO work. Just a few guys are out here, like those who have called the day off and they were all huddled inside due to the outside bitter coldness.

Extreme Expedition, Bicycling: Leh-Chang la-Pangong-Chushul-Kakasang la-Hor la-Mahe-cycling-leh-pangong-chusul-mahe-70.jpg

Among those that were there, we soon start chatting. They want to know more about me in a curious way - like as to why i am cycling in this uphill when
I could have taken the car or even a shared taxi and I know more about them -, their work and how it has brought them in this high-altitude desolate land. And what more became endearing to them is that I could recognize the place from where they come from - all of them are from surrounding villages of Lakhimpur Kheri in Uttar Pradesh. Now Lakhimpur Kheri is famous for the somehow less travelled Dudhwa National Park near Nepal border of UP, and in turn Dudhwa is well known for Billy Arjan Singh - always been in our travel plan in some future date and as such had studied about it occasionally. That I at least know something about their place was quite endearing to them. As said soon were in having a good gossip and talk.

Seen here with the few guys that were there in the late afternoon. Most of them however were scheduled to come down from Chang la top BRO work by around evening.

Extreme Expedition, Bicycling: Leh-Chang la-Pangong-Chushul-Kakasang la-Hor la-Mahe-cycling-leh-pangong-chusul-mahe-67.jpg

By evening everyone one of these guys, some 20 odd people, are back. All of them quite curious, no one expected to find a cyclist among them and then staying with them overnight. And moreover that I know at least something about Lakhimpur Kheri and Dudhwa, their native places, impressed them more!

But then again the welcome I got from all them was fantastic. These people have the least out here, spend the day labouring away among rock and boulders on the high mountains - to come back to this barrack to sleep, cold bitter night winds buffeting them from all around in this abandoned shelter.

Extreme Expedition, Bicycling: Leh-Chang la-Pangong-Chushul-Kakasang la-Hor la-Mahe-cycling-leh-pangong-chusul-mahe-73.jpg

Each day their routine is the same. Soon after return, food is cooked. Some help out in cutting vegetables, some making rotis. A beer bottle is used as a belan [rolling pin] to flatten the dough!

Extreme Expedition, Bicycling: Leh-Chang la-Pangong-Chushul-Kakasang la-Hor la-Mahe-cycling-leh-pangong-chusul-mahe-72.jpg

Second week of September here in Zingral it is close to zero, plus the tin shutters hardly stopped the harsh coldness inside. As food is cooked we gather around the fire that is lit inside and gossip away the time. We talk about their life here, their work, Dudhwa and Lakhimpur Kheri and they are curious to know more about the city of Kolkata, Howrah bridge. Again the most unlikely places stayed and the welcome I got from all folks that I met out there.

Moreover today their dinner is special, that comes up only once in a week. Instead of rotis and vegetables, once in a week they have soya beans and puris. By 7:30 pm we are all having our dinner. This is again amazing, just like last night. Not only they share their food whatever they have for that day with me without any qualms, they also make sure I have eaten well.

Extreme Expedition, Bicycling: Leh-Chang la-Pangong-Chushul-Kakasang la-Hor la-Mahe-cycling-leh-pangong-chusul-mahe-74.jpg

Extreme Expedition, Bicycling: Leh-Chang la-Pangong-Chushul-Kakasang la-Hor la-Mahe-cycling-leh-pangong-chusul-mahe-75.jpg

Night is early as they have to leave again early morning for work and myself leaving for the final push towards Chang la. By 8:30, everyone is back to their ply-board "beds" on the concrete floor. Again as I go off to sleep in this derelict barrack, just like yesterday, I again think about all the welcome and the generosity that repeats again today itsef on day 2. Like yesterday, again today on September 10, 2013, my place of stay for night is something extraordinary, an unique experience to say the least.

Extreme Expedition, Bicycling: Leh-Chang la-Pangong-Chushul-Kakasang la-Hor la-Mahe-cycling-leh-pangong-chusul-mahe-76.jpg

Tomorrow the plan is to wake up early, freshen up, and head off towards the mighty Chang la standing tall at 17,600 feet.

Last edited by Rudra Sen : 24th July 2014 at 07:36. Reason: Uniform para spacing
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Old 22nd July 2014, 17:09   #29
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Default Re: Extreme Expedition, Bicycling: Leh-Chang la-Pangong-Chushul-Kakasang la-Hor la-Ma

Thanks to all for all the wonderful words and appreciation! This travelogue was long pending and and so are still quite a few others. But please do stop writing "Sir"!




Quote:
Originally Posted by Kandisa View Post
The wild dog/wolf incidence is genuinely scary to say the least. Similar horror stories about the wild dogs were mentioned in another biker's log on the journey through merak-chushul stretch.
Quote:
Originally Posted by bblost View Post
That must have been so scary with the wolves. Glad you decided to leave the tent and very happy you found shelter.
Quote:
Originally Posted by The BULK View Post
.. but good decision to move out of that place.
Quote:
Originally Posted by amit_shimla View Post
Superb narration adc. You took the right decision by leaving the camping ground, it is better to be safe than sorry..
With the onset of the cold season, food becomes is scarce and as such their pack mentality becomes much more worse. In Leh, during the winter months, residents themselves worry about the hungry domestic dogs roaming around in packs, searching for food. Small children have been mauled and adults bitten at random at Leh during the winter months.

Now at the end of it all, most probably nothing would have happened - but that image of all those pack animals standing in their barely lit silhouette on the mountain ridge howling their lungs away was too much for me to bear . And if all these would have happened late in the night when I am in deep sleep after all the cycling, I would not have even woken up and realized it at all unless those started tugging at the sleeping bag or tent.

The solo camping by side of Tso Kar during the 2012 bicycling travel in October was magical, but then this turned out something quite the opposite.




Quote:
Originally Posted by BlackPearl View Post
Please let me know if you are in Kolkata as there is a meet on the 3rd of August.
Arre, and I am trying to find out for the last 6 months if you had come back to Kolkata! Will give you a call.

I did get the message from PapaBravo regarding the meet and replied about being unsure - there is a 50-50 chance of being present and as such did not order any T-shirt or such. For me it all depends on when work ends on Saturday night, if it continues till very late night or even sometimes it may stretch to early morning , then it would be impossible for anyone to wake up again at 6 or 7 am. If not, like last meet, absolutely would be there and it would be great to meet the new and old members alike.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Mik View Post
I am also intrigued about the Jan 2014 plan. Hopefully the plan materialized and we will get another treat
That plan did not only materialize, it was a fantastic and unique expereince. More about it on another thread!

Last edited by adc : 22nd July 2014 at 17:34.
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Old 22nd July 2014, 17:19   #30
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Default Re: Extreme Expedition, Bicycling: Leh-Chang la-Pangong-Chushul-Kakasang la-Hor la-Ma

Simply superb ADC !

What a fantastic adventure and you are kind enough sharing it with us. you have said that you are a once in a year cyclist, how did you manage this strenuous journey then ? Did you go through any exercise regimen in the days leading up to the journey ? Please do not say its mind over matter even if you end your sentences with a 'mind it'!!. It must have been a extremely physical journey in addition to everything else.

looking forward for more.

Manmohan.
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